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Ardnamurchan, the "Hidden Gem" of Lochaber



Called "The Hidden Gem of Lochaber", far flung Ardnamurchan, the most westerly peninsula on the British mainland, offers wild beauty with stunning views and few crowds. Cycling, fishing, golfing, kayaking, boat trips- there is lots for the outdoors lover to do in Ardnamurchan, or maybe you would just rather relax and enjoy the views. You'll feel as if you are on the edge of the world, and in this busy day and age, that can be heaven!

Castle Tioram, Ardnamurchan
Castle Tioram, Ardnamurchan

It’s quite a trek to reach the area. What do you think of a ferry crossing and long stretch of single-track road? You’ll drive through a stunning extinct volcanic landscape, now clothed in purple heather and wild mountain thyme. But that’s part of its charm- you’ll miss the crowds and nothing stands between you and the calming turquoise seascapes.


Artists and photographers are drawn to Ardnamurchan for the quality of its light, not to mention the lack of light pollution at night. On a clear day, you might spot a golden eagle majestically soaring on the thermals above, and on a clear night, the stars- and sometimes the Aurora Borealis- seem so close you can almost reach out and touch them.


You can really go wild in Ardnamurchan, from exploring the moors, forests and lochs and beaches, to spotting swooping sea eagles and playful otters- and do some frolicking yourself in the tranquil rock pools that dot the bays. Climb the rocks for stunning views over Isle of Skye, Muck, Eigg, Rhum and Canna- that alone is worth the drive! And if the weather is warm, you might not be able to resist a dip in the gorgeous turquoise waters.


For those truly looking to get away from it all, head to Sanna Bay on the tip of the peninsula one of most remote and impressive beach experiences in Scotland. It's a bit of a trek, including 30 miles of single-track road. But that's part of the charm- you'll miss the crowds and might just have the entire beach to yourself.


For even more natural history, head to Loch Sunart and the Sunart Oak Woods, an ancient Caledonian forest that is the remains of a band of coastal woodland that once stretched as far as Spain. The area has been designated a special conservation site, its clean air and moist climate combining to produce ideal conditions for lichen and liverworts.


Ardnamurchan has long been a source of fascination for archaeologists, and in 2011, the UK mainland's first fully intact Viking ship burial site, 5metre long, complete with over 200 metal rivets, was uncovered near Ockle Point. The 1,000-year-old grave contained the remains of a high status Norseman, who was buried with an axe, a sword with a beautifully decorated hilt, a spear, shield boss and bronze ring-pin. Other finds included a knife, what could be the tip of a bronze drinking horn, a whetstone from Norway, a ring pin from Ireland and Viking pottery.


The village of Portuairk is the western most settlement on the British mainland and arguably, one of the prettiest. Kilchoan is largest village in West Ardnamurchan boasting a hotel, Ferry Stores, craft shop, campsites and Community Centre as well as the newly restored Mingary Castle and a ferry service to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. The Ardnamurchan Natural History Visitor Centre at Glenmore provides visitors with an introduction to the breathtaking variety of flora, fauna and wildlife to be found in this beautiful corner of Scotland. The local fare is outstanding, from locally reared venison to produce (look for farms selling their eggs by the side of the road) and, of course, some of the freshest seafood in Scotland.


Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse


The best known of Ardnamurchan’s sites is its lighthouse, just a short distance from Corrachadh Mor, the most westerly point of the British mainland. It was built in 1849 with stone from the nearby Isle of Mull. You can uncover its story at the Kingdom of Light visitor centre, visit the cafe and gift shop in the former stables. You can really imagine life as a Lighthouse Keeper by staying in one of the Keeper’s Cottages, which has been transformed into accommodation. Watching the sun set here should be on everyone’s bucket list.


The Ardnamurchan Distillery at Glenbeg, opened in 2014, is Scotland's western most distillery, as well as one of the greenest. It was even named as one of the world's hot new attractions by Lonely Planet. The Distillery is said to be one of the first to be wholly reliant on local renewable energy, using woodchip for heat and hydro-generated electricity. They produce two style of spirit, one peated and one unpeated. The distillery was designed to make a “full flavoured malt” that represents its west Highland location.


In what is surely one of Scotland’s most dramatic settings, Castle Tioram sits on a wee tidal island of the same name- Tioram means dry in Gaelic- and, appropriately, this 12th century ruin can be reached on foot only during low tide. The mighty, Somerled, Norse Gaelic warlord and ancestor to three ancient clans, built this stronghold, and it is the traditional seat of the Clanranald branch of Clan Donald. You might recognise it from a passing glimpse from Highlander: The Series fourth season episode, "Homeland.


Getting here:

From the south, take the A82, then the Corran Ferry crosses between Nether Lochaber near Onich and Ardgour, and runs between 6:30am-9:30pm. From the north, you have two choices- carry on to the Corran Ferry or take the A830 to Lochailort, then south on the A861. CalMac runs ferry services from Ardnamurchan to the Isle of Mull. Bus service runs here as well from Kilchoan/Acharacle to Fort William.


 

If you are looking for things to do in Oban, why not book a guided walking tour with Imagine Alba? Our expert guide will show you the highlights and hidden gems as you explore the scenery and culture of beautiful Oban. Get in touch today to book!







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